Monday, September 27, 2010

That ‘80s Chili Chicken

This is an old school Chili Chicken every young Indian Mother from the 1980s was christened into when it came to Chinese cooking at home.

Finely Chopped’s Chili Chicken metaphor rekindled the desire to do what my Mum – a Mother of two very finicky daughters loved to cook. Okay, make that one – the me who believed that gourmet food everyday was my birthright. In other words, I was the problem child. I choked on Ilish maach bhaja, vegetables made a pocket around my throat, and I was happy eating luchi-mangsho for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While Little Sis B drank her milk, ate her egg yolks with panache and even relished uchche bhaja.

That growing up ‘80s decade sure was fun, except for the bitter gourd part. The 1982 Asian Games, color television, Different Strokes, and cartoons which made sense.

I grew up in Patna, which had its share of Chinese immigrants. The men were dentists and their wives ran thrifty beauty parlours. Giving the uninitiated populace of the capital of Bihar the Lily’s and the Chang’s salons. The rest of the 40% opened restaurants. The best Chinese food memory from my childhood was this family-owned place called Hsin Long (Thanks Kaushik for the correct spelling). The food was the greatest a 12-year-old had had. One day, we heard the restaurant had closed, it is hazy why they shut shop. We heard the family had left town after paying a huge ransom for living in Bihar to the then gunda state government. That also ended our monthly outing to a great Chinese restaurant.

Which meant we were stuck for life with my Mum’s Chili Chicken, which went on to become a bestseller in our extended family.

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Ingredients for the ‘80s Chili Chicken are:

500 grams boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (I used thigh portions,which have the tenderness like drumsticks and the meatiness of breasts)
1 medium red onion, cut into quarters, peels separated
4-5 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 bell pepper/capsicum, diced
6-7 green chilies, cut into little pieces
Half cup white vinegar
Half cup dark soy sauce
Half cup green chili sauce
2 tablespoons Canola/vegetable oil

IMG_1703 Marinade the chicken in the vinegar for about 30 minutes. I do this to make the chicken tender and also to remove any gamey smell from it. Drain the vinegar.

Heat oil in a wok and add the chopped garlic and green chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes, do not brown the garlic.

IMG_1705 Add the onions and give them some heat. Let the onions turn pink in color before you add the soy sauce and green chili sauce.

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Toss around the onions in the sauce and add the chicken pieces.  
IMG_1709 Cook for 5-7 minutes till the chicken becomes tender. Add the diced capsicum.

IMG_1710 Cook for another 5-7 minutes till the sauces dry up a bit. Serve immediately.

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Silence Sings said...

Your post reminds me my old days....chili chicken is the one dish that I can devour any time....

Reeni said...

I love how you talk about the 80's! And what a delicious bowl of yumminess! One of my favorites too.

Sulagna Mukherjee Basu said...

We too had lots of Mum's chilli chicken and chinese fried rice,growing up.Your post made me drool :)

Best Regards

Sayantani said...

I used to make chili chicken the other way ie. batter frying and then dunking them in sauce. but after hubby's visit to china this is the exact way he makes me cook it. he loves it this way and Dont have problem. looks delicious.

The knife said...

Coincidentally my friend Soumik's reaction after he had the chili chicken was that it was just like his mom's. So now we know what 'Ma'r haathe ranna' means.

Chili chicken

Soma said...

Yes! Chili Chicken.. some tastes some memories never fade. They grow stronger with every passing year, and even stronger when we stretch but cannot touch them. I think Indian Chinese is one of those longings while we sit here and dream of the aroma and the texture and so much more.


Priya said...

Mouthwatering chilli chicken..

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Ahaa - the 80s and the yummy chili chicken!

Satrupa said...

Pree .... reading your writeup's lights up a gloomy day. And the memories of 80's are always close to my heart.

Chii Chicken has been on my fav list since the 80's till now.

Cheers n Happy Cooking,

jjs said...

i was born and brought up in muzaffarpur(65 kms north of patna), before the gandhi setu(one of the longest bridge in the country) opened we used to come to patna by crossing ferry, after the bridge opened,we travelled to see the bridge and in Patna, I had my first chinese lunch in a retaurant called MINMIN. It was love at first sight which continues till date. Ur post brought back many memories. Thanks a ton. JJ